Archive for the ‘chemotherapy’ Category

Eating healthy, not a cure-all for cancer

I came across an article today regarding healthy lifestyle choices that cure and/or prevent cancer. The implied notion that cancer is primarily caused by environmental factors really irks me the wrong way. There are too many folks out there who toss around claims as if they’re selling a product to consumers. Obviously some lifestyle choices can really cause cancer, e.g. using tobacco products. However, in my case, my oncologist stated that origin remains unproven, but my cancer was likely tied to genetics. Eating twigs and berries would not have prevented it, nor would it have served as a suitable treatment in lieu of surgery and chemotherapy.

Steroids & Chemo

Someone asked me the other day what I thought about the alleged performance-enhancing steroids use by Lance Armstrong. Of course I, nor any of you know if there is any real truth behind the allegations. What I can tell you, is that I was on steroids throughout my chemotherapy. It is my understanding that this is quite common and a necessity to make it through treatment. I joked with my oncologist when she first wrote the prescription; saying that I should head to the gym and lift weights. Although steroids might be able to stay in your body for quite some time, I was in no condition to ever take advantage of the situation. This simply leads me to believe that Lance Armstrong should be given the benefit of the doubt.

I’m Good

The chest pain from the other day turns out to be nothing. Good. I’m excited that Friday is my last day of chemo, ever (knock on wood for the superstitious types). We’re going out for beers on Saturday night, which will be the official kick-off of my summer!

Last 5-day chemo week

This week is my last 5-day chemo cycle. My nurse said that the fatigue will be a lot tougher this time, but at least it is almost over. We’re starting to make a lot of fun plans for August- beer, coffee and way too much sunshine, here I come!

Big thank you to WBZ-TV

On Monday, when I found out that Blue Cross Blue Shield wasn’t going to help me or any other chemotherapy patient to preserve fertility, I was pretty upset.  Enough so, that I contacted my local news media outlets for help.

Joe Shortsleeve, of WBZ-TV, the CBS affiliate in Boston, read my story and called to hear me out.  After agreeing to send a news crew for a televised interview at Dana-Farber tomorrow, Joe placed a call into Blue Cross Blue Shield to get an official comment.

The response was “Tell us who the patient is, and if we cover his expenses, ask him if he will drop the story”.

My response (in the 2nd call with Joe) “You can tell them who I am, but I’d rather run the story- this effects every chemo patient, and I’ve already accepted that I have to pay for my sperm banking”.

Within 30 minutes, I received a phone call from Blue Cross Blue Shield.  The representative stated “Good news, we just had a meeting.  As of October 1, 2009, all Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts members who undergo a treatment that could cause infertility, will be covered for fertility treatments.  Men will be allowed to bank sperm and women will be allowed to bank eggs for two years for a future pregnancy.  We are also going to pay for your sperm banking costs that you have already incurred.”

On that note, it is time for bed- I need to wake up at 4 AM tomorrow for my first chemo treatment.

Blue Cross Blue Shield reviewing fertility policy

My grievance, although initially denied, has been escalated to some sort of medical director at Blue Cross Blue Shield.  I’ve accepted the fact that they won’t reimburse me according to their current policy.  That being said, I intend on raising some public awareness about this issue, as it is relevant to every young person going through chemotherapy.

On a positive note, Dana-Farber provides free snacks and lunch to chemo patients.  I’m nervous, and strangely excited to get my treatment started.  I’ll have internet access in the infusion room, thus my plan is to continue to work for my company, but as a remote employee.

Blue Cross Blue Shield won’t pay for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy to preserve the ability to have children

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has informed me that sperm banking is not considered a “medical necessity” for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment according to their existing policy. Although Blue Cross recognizes that chemotherapy has a high risk of causing infertility, sperm banking is only covered for couples who are documented as already, but unsuccessfully attempting to have children naturally.

Patients that simply want to preserve the ability to bear children at a later point in life are not covered.

My sperm bank results came back. Not surprisingly, I have an extremely low sperm count. They typically would have a patient come back for multiple visits just as a precaution, but due to the cost, I’ll refrain. My first visit alone now has me responsible for a 10 year contract at roughly $4,700.

I had a conversation with staff from the Lance Armstrong foundation today. This turns out to be an all-too-common occurrence for cancer patients undergoing chemo. Most HMOs have loop holes that keep them from being financially responsbile for cancer patient fertilty.